Having achieved cult status through features on the likes of Tion Wayne’s ‘Home’, rising R&B star Dolapo is striking out on her own with ‘Blink of an Eye’, a quietly glossy study on the fantasy of falling in love. Earning her stripes singing backing and co-writing for some of the most exciting artists in the scene right now: MoStack, Tion Wayne, ZieZie and Young T and Bugsey to name a few, rising R&B star Dolapo is striking out on her own with a polished and slow-burning new joint. With a seamless amalgam of pure vocal talent and style, Dolapo’s emergence onto the scene is a bold one and the young artist already seems destined for very big things this year. We sat down with the musician to discuss her influences, musical beginnings, and latest single ‘Blink of an Eye’.
When did you first become involved making music?
I started really young, about 14/15. Through a mutual friend, I met Ragz Originale – (Skepta – Shutdown) and Epxcs (Stanley). They let me use their studio to record, I was so nervous I was literally drenched in sweat but they were the coolest guys I met and they instantly felt like the older brothers I never had. We kept in contact and they just continued to develop me, support my writing and recording, give advice etc with nothing in return, they did it purely because of their love for music. I was really lucky to meet those guys.
Who are your primary musical influences?
My primary musical influences include TLC, Aaliyah, Ashanti, Monica, I used to roleplay Destiny’s Child with my two older sisters every weekend and I always took Michelle’s part lol. Also, the great MJ to name a few in the US. In the UK, I would say it was, Misteeq, Sugababes, So Solid Crew and Ms Dynamite – I remember dedicating time to learning all the words to So Solid Crew ft Ms Dynamite – ‘Envy’. Of course being from Nigeria, I grew up to my Dad banging out Nigerian music all the time in the car and I would have the time of my life. Definite favourite were Lagbaja and Fela Kuti. As I got older I naturally wanted to discover more and found D’banj, P Squared, 2Face, Styl Plus… and the list could go on for days. Also, I could never forget Gospel music.
Who are your favourite recording artists at the moment?
Jhene Aiko – I could listen to her voice on repeat for hours. Especially when life can feel a bit hectic, I always find that she always calms my brain. Rihanna knows how to take any song and own it like every part of the writing and production was made just for her, I love it. Drake, H.E.R, PND, Ty Dolla Sign, WSTRN, Mr Eazi, J Hus and Ella Mai, in no particular order, and I’ve also definitely left people off the list but again, I could go on.
How would you describe your music to someone who had never heard it before?
I would say my writing and melodies are R&B. However I would say my music is either genre-less or a fusion of R&B with other genres depending on how you choose to look at it. There will always be a blend of R&B, Afro-swing, Dancehall and Pop on any song.
What’s the story behind your recording name?
It’s funny because I spent pretty much the first 20-something years of my life being called Dolly cause no one could pronounce or spell my name, which got embarrassing. Like many Africans growing up in the UK our names weren’t cool to us. As I got older and more in touch with myself I thought, why not just go with who you actually are. So Dolapo, pronounced [Dolla (Like dollar bills) & Poh], is actually my real name. It’s a Yoruba name that means royalty and wealth flowing together in a person.
While you released your debut single in August of this year, you’ve already been active in the music industry co-writing and singing backing vocals with some of the best of the UK’s hottest underground stars like Tion Wayne, MoStack and ZieZie. How would you describe this new wave of UK talent?
This new wave of UK talent is stronger than ever and more diverse than ever. It really is inspiring to see, especially when you see everyone doing numbers that used to be unimaginable for us to crack. For once we’re in the driver’s seat, hopefully we’re all here to stay. I do hope to see more women of colour at the top and in mainstream music, there are a few of us emerging now so hopefully this helps more come forward.
After your involvement collaborating with other artists, how does it feel to strike out on your own with solo material?
Crazy exciting, I have so much music!! I literally love the studio and live in it. Doing backing vocals and even co-writing some bits for these guys has been more accidental than planned, as I’m always just in studio working or chilling/catching up with people after a session and someone would just be like “Ahhh do you wanna jump in the booth?”. I’m definitely a fan of my music as I believe you should be and I’m lucky to have a team that allow me to create and release music that I and themselves genuinely love listening to. I am hoping to put together a project soon so definitely stay tuned!
Speaking of which, would you care to describe to our readers the story behind your debut single ‘Blink of an Eye’? Are the lyrics inspired by a real-life experience?
Not yet, the lyrics aren’t based on a real-life experience yet, we will get there one day haha. But I think that’s the beauty of the song and why I love it so much. The story of falling is timeless. It hasn’t happened for me but for some the words ring true already and when it does happen for me the lyrics will fit perfectly
The video for ‘Blink of an Eye’ has a vintage nineties feel — are you inspired by the style or culture of the nineties? In what way?
Definitely, I feel like that’s when we had some of the best music videos, they really mattered then. Silent Tapes were great at delivering that nostalgic feel to it. They talked through everything with me, from the filters they were going to shoot with, down to the vibe of the location and for me it was very important it felt British. We were also specific about the styling and outfit choices as I get a lot of my styling influences from Aaliyah, TLC and early Janet Jackson. I hope I get to dip back into that era wherever I can for my music and videos in the future.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2018?
More studio sessions (that will never stop) including when I’m abroad, and more releases and videos!
Where do you hope to see yourself this time next year?
This time next year, I hope to see myself finishing off my first round of festival season, I’m excited to hit the stage. Maybe even a small headline tour and definitely still releasing more music.